A valuable resource to measure the popularity of virtually any modern video game released for home computers, Steam Charts can display up-to-the minute data regarding the active userbase of a given title at a moments notice. When it comes to several hardcore racing sims, the results are almost incomprehensible: Nobody is playing these games, even though the developers of these titles rely on Steam primarily to increase awareness of their product, which in theory should lead to a much larger amount of players. Newsflash, it clearly doesn’t. These numbers are not very good.
While some will say each of the five titles listed have a nomadic group of sim racers who’ve taken a secret oath never to launch the executable file while the Ethernet cable is plugged into their computer, Valve’s popular distribution platform is the biggest it’s ever been. Steam is no longer seen as an awkward attempt to copy the Xbox Live Marketplace, and most people have caved into installing the program on their PC whether they wanted to or not.
Launched in October of 2007, Race 07 still sees a regular group of dedicated players, with the 24 hour count surpassing both Stock Car Extreme, a modern upgrade of Race 07 that sells for the same amount, as well as Kylotonn’s WRC 5, a game that came out only a few months ago.
RaceRoom Racing Experience has the benefit of two free weekends over the summer, where the entire game was unlocked to anyone bored enough to download it, but even when given out completely free of charge, the game could not surpass the peak popularity of a game that was released in 2007, when Steam was in its infancy.
The purpose of ISI making the jump to Steam was to increase awareness of rFactor 2 and generate a much-needed boost in sales, as the title is notorious for a lack of overall activity. The aggressive push to make virtual motorsports fans aware of rFactor 2’s Steam arrival, as well as the rough transition for those who already own the sim and simply needed to redeem a code has warranted virtually no positive results.
Stock Car Extreme, an obscure racing sim that community members threw over $100,000 at in an effort to help Reiza Studios build more international content for the game (as well as build two new games, one of which will be a re-release of Stock Car Extreme), is still yet to surpass an all-time peak of 124 players in-game at once. To put how terrible these numbers are into perspective, WRC 5, a shovelware title developed by a team who’s claim to fame is a line of interactive Yoga games for the Xbox 360, is slightly more active.
As a whole, these numbers paint an absolutely grim picture for Sim Racing. There are more people currently roaming the aisles of your local Wal-Mart than there are people in the world playing rFactor 2 or Stock Car Extreme. This can’t be profitable for the developers involved.